Finance, the catalyst to the circular economy

On 10 March, ING Wholesale Banking, the Dutch embassy in London and Green Alliance hosted an exclusive audience of CFOs, group treasurers and other financial decision makers to discuss the implications of moving towards a circular business model and the role that finance will play in society’s transition to a circular economy.

The conference saw business leaders from a variety of sectors share their experiences and high level insights on the opportunities presented by the circular economy and how the financial sector can enable corporates in adopting a circular approach to business. 

  • Finance experts and corporates need to innovate and adopt a collaborate approach to unlock investment and grow the circular economy
  • By applying circular business principles to your business there are both environmental and commercial benefits


Find insights and publications from the event and further on this key topic here on the web, via LinkedIn and Twitter.


The speakers & their contributions

Simon Smits

Transition towards a circular economy means a stronger, lasting business

Simon Smits, Dutch Ambassador in the UK, opened the session underlining the relevant contribution of the circular economy on the Eurozone. “We are seeing an increased focus on circular business models and we wanted to use the momentum of the Dutch EU presidency to elevate this issue.” Watch the presentation


Jan Peter Balkenende portrait

Integrating sustainability into your business model is needed for success

The keynote was delivered by prof. Jan Peter Balkenende, partner Corporate Responsibility at EY and former PM of the Netherlands, who underlined the importance for business to combine sustainability with innovation to be successful and guarantee a better return on investment. Watch the presentation


Butterworth portrait

More capital and a stronger network can facilitate better business

Jamie Butterworth, partner at Circularity Capital, explored the circular economy from a private equity angle, stressing the importance of combining capital with a strong network to create greater value. He also believes that both financing and education is needed to make the circular economy work. The circular economy is fuelled by multiple elements, in particular when companies extend lifecycles of their assets, by increasing their utility rate and looping an asset through additional use cycles. Watch the presentation, read the article


Martijn Lopes Cardozo portrait

Circular startups look to finance their businesses to scale up

Martijn Lopes Cardozo, CEO at Black Bear Carbon, brought in the experience of his business that extracts carbon black from used tyres for reuse in a wide range of products. He provided the perspective of the start-ups world, stressing the importance of driving sustainable goals while making profit. Watch the presentation, read the article


Justin Keeble portrait

From a linear to circular value chain while protecting and recovering resources value

Justin Keeble, managing director at Accenture, discussed five main circular economy business models - encompassing the partnership with circular suppliers, resource recovery, product life extension and sharing platforms for the exchange of “products as services”. He also stressed the fundamental role that digital, hybrid and engineering technology are playing as accelerator of the circular transition. Watch the presentation, read the article


Ulrike Sapiro portrait

Packaging innovation will revolutionise the industry

Ulrike Sapiro, director of Sustainability at The Coca-Cola Company who’s responsible for the company’s water, agriculture and recycling-related initiatives, described Coca Cola’s PlantBottle project, a recyclable bottle made partially from plant material that can revolutionise the packaging industry. Innovation and regulation have proved to be key drivers of the circular economy, but it is also extremely important to promote innovative collaborations and synergies among companies. Watch the presentation, read the article


Steane portrait

Rethinking the way we finance new business models

Christopher Steane, global head of Lending Services at ING Wholesale Banking, closed the conference explaining why ING is taking the lead on supporting its clients’ transition to a circular business model: “We believe that sustainable business is better business and corporates that are taking on a circular approach are seizing an opportunity future-proof their business in a world that has a finite number of resources. Our challenge is to rethink how we provide finance to meet the needs of these new models in a way that sustains economic growth for the future.” Watch the presentation, read the article


See the bios of the speakers


Circular economy challenges financial business models

In ING’s view, the circular economy is the ultimate answer to solving the problem of the depletion and economic scarcity of resources.

"The present model of economic growth is running up against the limits of our planet’s ability to provide everything we need," says Koos Timmermans, vice chairman of ING. "Companies are increasingly looking at the entire lifecycle of their products, and the resources used in them, in order to decouple growth from resource use. This is where the circular economy comes in, which is about going from 'take, make and waste' to 'reduce, reuse and recycle'." ING is taking steps to apply the circular economy principles and is investigating how it can translate these effectively into viable customer solutions.

How can we help?

ING's Economics Department published 'Rethinking finance in a circular economy', an extensive report on the circular economy and the financial implications of circular business models.

Download the report



Read our e-magazine The View on sustainnovation
Innovations that disrupt established businesses have been with us for centuries, but many future examples will be driven by the sustainability challenges the world faces.

Find inspiration in The View on how sustainability can be a business driver, how it drives future disruptive innovations and different skills are needed to move it forward.
Read The View


Articles in the media on the circular economy

Five key lessons from Mud Jeans in building a circular startup (The Guardian, 3-4-2016)

There’s a new industrial revolution underway (, 16-7-2015)

Banks face circular economy funding challenge, says ING (, 1-6-2015)

Rethinking finance in a circular economy - ING Group analysis (, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 3-6-2015)

Manufacturers should take advantage of cheap materials to invest in circular economy, say ING (Resource Efficient Business news, 17-11-2015)


Sustainable finance at ING Wholesale Banking

Using our sustainability experts and WB’s long standing in-depth knowledge and expertise, the sustainable finance team will support your company in achieving its sustainability goals.

Whether you have a strong sustainability track record, an ambitious agenda, or you are addressing resource scarcity and seek financing for your sustainable deals - in the area of renewable energy, natural resources, waste management or water - sustainable finance is available to support you.

ING WB’s sustainable finance team focuses its efforts on identifying sustainable clients and deals and works with internal and externals experts in the sustainability arena to find ways to better serve our clients sustainability agendas. If you are looking for financial solutions for your sustainability activities, please get in touch with us and let us know how we can help you.

  • Strong ING and external network of experts in the sustainability arena
  • Team of professionals with in-depth industry knowledge
  • Co-operation across various WB deal teams and ING Groenbank


Contact us

Leonie Schreve, global head sustainable finance


+31 20 563 4948